Books offer the opportunity to step into someone else’s world, and middle school ELA teacher Jennifer Montgomery’s seventh-grade class did just that during their book study of Linda Sue Park’s A Long Walk to Water. In a Socratic seminar, students discussed how the author builds empathy for the characters, whose lives are playing out during two different time periods in Sudan. But to bring the book’s themes to life for her classroom in Eminence, Kentucky, Montgomery had her middle school students do their own walk—traveling a mile while carrying a jug filled with water. In the discussion that followed, students shared their own reflections and insights, emerging from this exploration with a stronger sense of empathy—and a solid experience of perspective-taking that will stick with them for years to come.
To learn more about the research behind the practices seen in the video, check out the links below.
- The American Academy of Pediatrics’ report on how play enhances development in young children (2018)
- Kayleigh Skene, Christine M. O’Farrelly, Elizabeth M. Byrne, Natalie Kirby, Eloise C. Stevens, and Paul G. Ramchandani’s meta-analysis and review on whether guidance during play can enhance children’s learning and development in educational contexts (2022)
- Rachel Parker, Bo Stjerne Thomsen, and Amy Berry’s article on learning through play at school (2022)
- Corey Thomas and Christian Z. Goering’s article reflecting on Socratic circles and dialogue in a world history classroom (2018)
- Lois Robinson’s study on how Socratic seminar activities encourage engagement in classical civilization lessons (2022)
- Lawrence Shapiro and Steven Stolz’s comprehensive review of studies on embodied cognition (2019)
- Christopher R. Madan and Anthony Singhal’s overview of research on using physical actions to enhance memory (2012)
- Brian Kisida, Laura Goodwin, and Daniel H. Bowen’s article about teaching history through theater and the effects of arts integration on students’ knowledge and attitudes (2020)
- Hanneke Bartelds, Geerte M. Savenije, and Carla van Boxtel’s study of students’ and teachers’ beliefs about historical empathy in secondary history education (2020)